How important is Reliability in consumer products today?

Picture of Adam Bahret
Adam Bahret

Anyone remember the 1971 American Tourister suitcase campaign?  It was based on demonstrating that even if your beloved American Tourister suitcase was handed by an angry gorilla you had nothing to worry about.  A suitcase is obviously a product that competes on durability.  Why?  because it’s an every day item that is exposed to many environments.  Back then a computer, calculator or phone wouldn’t boast about durability in the limited and expensive time they had to convince customers to choose their brand.  It was technology features that sold.  Even if it didn’t do them consistently.

We also are familiar with seeing this as a focus for campaigns in the automotive industry.  Again it’s because this is a product that is not expected to be handled with care.

Ford Reliability

Today Technology is something that we throw around and abuse in the same way we used to handle luggage and big equipment.  The laptop I am typing this on has food in the keys (kids) and a few dents in the case (me). Ok the food is me too!

Many competing technology product companies have similar features or small incremental improvements for each new generation. Are these features critical factors in market competition? I don’t see signs of it in their marketing campaigns like I used to.  It’s been made clear that customers don’t care if their phone can do that latest cool “thing” if it doesn’t work when you are in the middle of getting directions to a late appointment or can’t check for critical work emails.

Are you in touch with how your customers rank reliability when choosing a technology product? It’s likely higher than you think. I recommend doing a field customer survey and asking these questions. Then do an internal poll with your technology, marketing, and sales teams and see how the internal and external perceptions compare. You might be shocked to find that they are not only different but opposite.
Look at current advertising trends. I have seen several new product introduction marketing campaigns that talk about reliability first and features second…or not at all.

Some recent examples:
Motorola did a 10ft drop test on Good Morning America live in Times Square.  Her is an article with an analysis on how the created the phone. The Droid 2 is almost unbreakable

motorola drop GMA-

Laptop companies not only highlight their drop height survival metric it is one of four key points to customers of product superiority.

laptop drop

Sonicare toothbrush just put out on social media how they reliability test their toothbrushes. No mention of their feature technology.

sonicare test

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